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IWAI : Container Ro-Ro ferry may be operated on Vypin-Bolgatty route

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KOCHI : The Kochi Corporation has requested the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) to spare one of the two container roll-on roll off (ro-ro) vessels to operate in the Fort Kochi-Bolgatty Island corridor since it may take around a week to repair Sethusagar-2, a ro-ro ferry that was withdrawn from service on Monday from the busy Vypin-Fort Kochi route, it is learnt.

The container ro-ro had been introduced on the Bolgatty route earlier this year, after Sethusagar-1 was withdrawn from service in November following technical snag. The container ro-ro was withdrawn after a week’s service owing to low patronage. Sethusagar-1 is still out of service and is awaiting dry docking at the Cochin Shipyard.

Sources in the Kochi Corporation said that they would give wide publicity for the container ro-ro service, so that motorists and other commuters would be able to use it. Simultaneously, efforts are on to drydock Sethusagar-1.

Sources in the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC), which operates and maintains ro-ro vessels, said that the clutch assembly kit that was awaited for Sethusagar-1 from the Netherlands would be installed in Sethusagar-2. It has arrived in Goa and will be delivered here in a few days. It costs ₹22 lakh a piece, and such costly equipment cannot be stored in advance. It would have been better had Indian components been relied on, they added.

Regular ro-ro commuters like Denson Peter, a Vypin resident, said that such issues could have been addressed if the third ro-ro vessel (for which ₹10 crore had been earmarked in the State Budget) was readied and the container ro-ro pressed into service till then. “The government must also decide on an underwater tunnel that had been suggested by experts to link Vypin and Fort Kochi, which will make it part of the coastal highway,” he said.

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